GOP Senators Want to Take the Debt Ceiling Hostage in Order to Raise the Retirement Age

Two Republican senators want to use the threat of an economic meltdown to raise the retirement age and cut Medicare. Sens. Bob Corker (R-TN) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) introduced a plan today that would raise the federal debt limit by $1 trillion in exchange for $1 trillion in cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, as The Hill reported:


The Corker-Alexander dollar-for-dollar plan has several components.

It would structurally reform Medicare by creating competing private options giving seniors greater choice of healthcare plans. It would not, however, cap Medicare spending.

The plan would also give states more flexibility to manage Medicaid programs and prevent states from “gaming the federal share of the program with state tax charges.”

It would gradually raise the Social Security retirement age and use the “chained CPI” formula to calculate cost-of-living adjustments, curbing the growing cost of benefits.

In exchange, it would direct the debt limit be increased by the same amount as the savings generated from entitlement reform.

The U.S. will hit its debt limit on or around December 31st. The Treasury Department estimates that, using extraordinary measures, it could avoid default for another two months or so. Allowing the U.S. to default on its debt via not raising the debt ceiling could cause a complete financial meltdown. The 2011 debt ceiling debacle — during which House Republicans nearly pushed the country into a default due to their intransigence on taxes — cost the country about $19 billion in higher interest payments and at least one million jobs.

Corker and Alexander are threatening more economic chaos in order to achieve one of the most regressive potential policy changes. Though lawmakers point to America’s increasing life expectancy in order to justify raising the retirement age, life expectancy is only increasing for wealthier workers in non-physical jobs. As the Center for Economic and Policy Research put it, “there has been a sharp rise in inequality in life expectancy by income over the last three decades that mirrors the growth in inequality in income.”

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

Close